Our Choice: Life or Death
By Mary Jane Curry, Triple-win editor and co-founder of WNC CAC; edited by Mary Thomas, Creation Care member at First United Methodist Church; and Steve Wall, co-founder WNC CAC
A growing majority of Americans report anxiety about extreme weather. Scott McLeod’s editorial in the Smoky Mountain News (Aug. 4-10) describes his July vacation in the Rockies, where dense smoke from western fires is harming people’s health. Some firefighters have permanent lung damage.
The end of bearable life on Earth is in sight—before today’s babies reach middle age. The 2021 International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report is the latest of a series of dire warnings. Don’t the children we love deserve a better world than this?
Local projects such as those recommended in previous “Triple-win” articles, while necessary, are not sufficient. Nations must enact, not merely promise, major changes to lessen the effects of climate change this year. Economists remind national leaders that the cost of switching to sustainable energy is minor compared to nations’ certain economic and political collapse if the major polluters, including the USA, fail to do their part.
What's the holdup?
Too little political will among elected officials, too much emphasis on profits among top corporate executives, and disinformation. Nations and corporations know the necessary solutions, yet most apply them piecemeal, if at all.
The flash flood and mudslide shown above occurred in McDowell
County, NC, May 2018. Extreme precipitation is projected to be the
most challenging effect of climate change for western North Carolina.
See the Union of Concerned Scientists report “Climate Disinformation” on corporate suppression of fossil fuel damage. A 2018 Republican-led House panel condemned Russian online disinformation, persuading some to buy the lie that climate change is a “liberal hoax.”
What each of us can do:
We all have family memories of trauma--poverty, war, natural disasters. Among our good memories are those about ancestors who overcame those challenges. We live in a remarkable world because of their actions. As their heirs, we have the power to overcome the worst crisis humanity has ever faced.
To succeed, we must urge elected leaders to act now. Only by addressing the realities of climate change in 2021 can we ensure that the USA remains a strong, independent nation of healthy, prosperous people.
Preventing planet warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius (2 degrees Fahrenheit) requires public and private projects on the scale of the US and Britain’s World War II programs. See the Climate Reality Project article “Why Is 1.5 Degrees the Danger Line for Global Warming?”
1.Call on Governor Cooper, your state senator and your representative to support rapid transition to solar energy. Urge them to stop pipelines and fracking, which have damaged people’s health and devastated communities while worsening climate change. Remind them of safe energy sources.
For example, North Carolina is number 3 in the US in solar production. We can add more jobs while providing clean electricity statewide. Building solar power plants is less expensive than building or maintaining gas/oil/coal-fired. Electric vehicle costs are also dropping rapidly.
2.Contact President Biden, our two US Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, and your representative in Congress to support
a) taxing the wealth of the richest .1 percent (yes, that's only one-tenth of 1 percent of all taxpayers),
b) ending “subsidies” for fossil fuels and honoring Indigenous People's treaties with the US Government by evicting fossil fuel companies from their lands, and
c) starting a comprehensive jobs-infrastructure-sustainable energy program. More well-paying jobs in infrastructure and renewable energy, with re-training for American miners and other displaced workers, is the keystone of President Biden’s economic recovery action; see the White House link below.
1) Today’s children can expect a normal lifespan.
2) More people will earn sustainable wages and enjoy good health.
3) Happiness for choosing conservation over destruction, optimism over despair.
AirNow.gov: Data on local air quality
American Lung Association: “Climate Change and Lung Health”
Climate Reality Project: “Why Is 1.5 Degrees the Danger Line for Global Warming?” https://www.climaterealityproject.org/blog/why-15-degrees-danger-line-global-warming
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change: “Climate Change 2021” https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/wg1/downloads/report/IPCC_AR6_WGI_SPM.pdf
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA): “Understanding Climate Normals” https://www.noaa.gov/explainers/understanding-climate-normals
NBC News: Polls on climate change https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/meet-the-press/global-warming-perceptions-states-more-americans-accept-fault-n1265213
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC): “Cost of Building Power Plants in Your State” https://www.nrdc.org/cost-building-power-plants-your-state
Union of Concerned Scientists: https://www.ucsusa.org/climate/disinformation
The White House: https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/07/28/fact-sheet-biden-harris-administration-issues-proposed-buy-american-rule-advancing-the-presidents-commitment-to-ensuring-the-future-of-america-is-made-in-america-by-all-of-americas/